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It's Not What You Say, But How You Say It.

When was the last time you felt like you “won” a disagreement or dispute? How about the last time you "lost" an argument, do you remember when that was? Sure you do! No one likes to loose, but everyone likes to win. Your success in either situation is a direct result of your ability to negotiate and despite all of the attempts at compressing negotiation skills into a neat little four- or five-step process, the reality is that if you are not controlling your verbal and non-verbal cues, you are likely ending up with the short end of the proverbial stick. Not where you want to be.
 
Let me give you an example that you may relate to. I purchased a new car several months ago, and as the salesman walked around my old car he pointed out some dents and scratches, not unusual in a four-year-old car. I knew he was trying to devalue the car to prepare me for his lowball trade in offer and when he pointed to an embarrassing dent that I had inadvertently caused when opening my door into a parking pillar, I said, “Umm, yeah I must have parked too close to a wall; but you know these things happen when you travel as much as I do!” Now, how does my response sound to you? The “Umm,” suggests I am weak, lieing, or at best I simply don’t have a good explanation. In retrospect a more confident response I could have provided would have been as follows: “I opened the door into a wall in a parking garage; what you’ve never done that before yourself?” Sounds more aggressive, but there is no doubt of my level of confidence relative to whether the dent was caused by me and how much that might actually influence the trade in value. Now, on the other hand, here is an example of a humorous response, “I was getting out of my car, and the parking barrier jumped out and bit the door!” Sounds silly, I know, but my point is that how we use our language, in essence our verbal cues, determine whether our negotiations result in favorable or unfavorable results. Verbal cues are a significant component to our negotaition strategy.
 
Next to verbal cues, the most common weakness in our negotiation approach is in the misuse of non-verbal cues. Confidence and the perception of it is a significant component to ensuring that you achieve a desirable outcome from negotiations. How you present yourself, your body language, positioning, and gestures all play a significant role in supporting your negotiation strength. Considering the example above, I can further change the perception of confidence in my statement if I position my body in a different manner. Leaning on the car, for example, while making either statement above would suggest that I am relaxed. On the other hand, standing directly in front of the sales person and looking them straight in the eye suggests a more aggressive tone. Next to language, body positioning is the second most critical element to effective negotations.
 
Remember the scene in “A Few Good Men” when Tom Cruise interrogated Jack Nicholson? Despite his clearly inferior position to Nicholson, Cruise remained confident in his approach and position. There was little in his verbal or non-verbal cues that suggested otherwise. It is through the control of our verbal and non-verbal cues that we demonstrate our degree of confidence relative to our position or views.
 
So it is through the combination of improving our verbal and non-verbal cues that we create an aura of confidence, and confidence is what you need to win a negotiation, each and every time!

© Shawn Casemore 2012. All rights reserved.

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